Widnes Vikings to show London Broncos their ruthless side
Super League outfit likely to be too strong
Super League Qualifiers
Sky Sports Action, 7.45pm Thursday
The scrap for a place in the 2019 Betfred Super League starts on Thursday with the bottom four finishers in this season’s top flight battling it out with the leading quartet from the Betfred Championship in an eight-team mini-league.
The top three will join the elite next year while the two clubs placed fourth and fifth play off for the final spot in the top division.
Widnes, who finished tailed off after the regular season, are the most vulnerable of the current Super League sides.
The Vikings have lost their last 16 league games and open their campaign against a London team who are unbeaten in their last seven Championship matches.
Only Halifax at home is an easier fixture on paper for Widnes and, if they don’t snap their losing streak, they’re in serious trouble.
Coach Francis Cummins has boosted his squad with the signings of no-nonsense forwards Harrison Hansen and Charlie Gubb plus veteran half-back Liam Finn and he will hope for a repeat of last year’s 38-16 home win over the Broncos in the Qualifiers.
Joe Mellor and Danny Craven both bagged a brace that afternoon and are 2-1 and 5-2 respectively to touch down in this fixture.
Widnes are 2-5 to win again and the odds are stacked in their favour. The 16 meetings between Super League and Championship sides in last year’s Qualifiers resulted in 14 wins for top-flight teams and just two for second-tier sides. Both of those were recorded by Hull KR, who ended up being promoted.
London receive an eight-point handicap and have lost by more than that margin at Toronto, Halifax and Leigh this year.
The Vikings' new recruits should help them cover the line against the Broncos but whether they’ll be able to achieve a top-three finish is another question altogether.
Widnes are 3-1 to do so but the 7-2 against the Vikings winning the Million Pound Game is of much more interest.
A fourth- or fifth-placed finish is highly likely and the 7-2 would look huge if the Super League cellar-dwellers are involved in the 80-minute shootout.
Champions Leeds are 6-4 favourites to finish top of pile but that looks skinny for a team who have won only one of their last 11 league games and were thrashed 48-12 by Warrington in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-final last Sunday.
The Rhinos are 16-1 to win the Million Pound Game and that looks worth a small punt.
3pts 10-11 Betway
Widnes to win Million Pound Game
2pts 7-2 Betfred
Leeds to win Million Pound Game
1pt 16-1 Betfred
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